Mental strength of athletes

Konner Hancock

The photo above features Riley Evans, a full time student athlete, high-fiving teammates.

A student athlete typically has a busier schedule than the normal university attendee, but women’s basketball player Riley Evans argues that it is all worth it.

Attending a university and taking on a full load can be time-consuming and difficult, however student athletes have to do just that alongside a rigorous athletic training schedule. Seattle Pacific University has many athletes that train year-round while also pursuing their desired major, this may leave little time to rest and focus on mental health.

“You just get less time to do your homework and assignments,” Evans, the starting guard for the women’s basketball team said. “You’re constantly thinking about your sport, eating right, getting enough rest and then also school. It’s a balancing act for sure.”

But Evans argues that as many of these student athletes learn their role and get a solidified schedule, the sports they compete in do more good than harm to their mental health and education.

“I actually loved being in practice some days when I had a lot of homework because it was a break from it all,” she said. “During practice it’s like nothing else matters, you just focus on the present. Practice gave me a chance to let go of stress.”

Evans moved on to talk about how it helped her strengthen her ability to manage her time properly, because there are so many responsibilities to tend to.

The majority of the teams at SPU have achieved notable academic success. So far this school year, three different sports have already had their academic honors recognized, women’s soccer, men’s soccer and gymnastics.

The SPU women’s soccer club posted the highest, with 53 percent of their team earning academic acclaim, while gymnastics tallied at a strong 46 percent and men’s soccer coming in at 36 percent.

The soccer teams are a part of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and as such are eligible for the GNAC academic squad. To be on the squad, student athletes were required to have a minimum grade point average of 3.20 and be in at least their second year of competition at the university.

Meanwhile, the gymnastics team competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. To be eligible for nomination to the MPSF All-Academic squad, student-athletes needed to have a 3.00 or higher-grade point average and be a regular competitor for their team.

Head coach of the gymnastics team Laurel Tindal said that “most gymnasts have trained for so long in gymnastics and they are used to training many hours a week and have learned at an early age to manage their time.”

The assistant coach for the gymnastics squad Sarah Jean Marshall added that along with the coaches help and instruction on time management that the team often refers to outside recourse if a player is having trouble, for instance the SPU counseling center.

“We do all that we can to encourage and provide the needed resources for them to be successful in all areas here at SPU and they do a great job,” she said. Many of the competitions that come with athletics tend to be away matches, with can be anywhere from a neighboring city to several states away.

“The most stressful times are when you’re traveling. It’s just stressful to get everything done on time while travelling, playing and practicing,” Evans said. But Evan’s continues to stand by her claim that it was all worth it and in the end, it benefits her greatly.